COLLABORATION WITH THE ARTISTIC WORLD
Gateways between the world of watchmaking and the arts are many and varied. Watch designers are naturally sensitive to artistic currents and draw great inspiration from them in their own creations. Sometimes artists and craftsmen themselves even work on the dial of a watch. Here are a few examples.
The origins of the Museum Watch date back to the early days of modern design and to the group of artists who founded the Bauhaus School whose work is typified by the use of simple lines and functionalism. Designed in 1947 by the American artist Nathan George Horwitt, the Museum Watch is a pure expression of modern design. Horwitt explains his approach in the following terms: “My role consisted first and foremost in understanding how the object could be used in the most efficient possible way, after which I imagined a form which highlighted that use”. The Museum Watch, with its black dial and single golden dot at noon is a reference to the sun at its zenith, while the hands suggest the movement of the earth. In 1960, Horwitt’s dial was added to the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, hence the name Museum Watch.
The Swatch & Art collection was created in 1985 with the launch at the Pompidou Centre in Paris of a watch designed by the artist Kiki Picasso. Swatch continued in the same vein throughout the eighties by collaborating with artists such as Mimmo Paladino, Sam Francis and Alfred Hofkunst. But the most striking edition undoubtedly remains the one made with Keith Haring in 1986, in the artist’s lifetime.
Conceived in cooperation with the watch designer Eric Giroud, the first Machine Horlogère (Horological Machine) or HM1 by MB&F benefits from many different influences. References have been deliberately confused in this piece. Apart from the technical constraints inherent in the creation of a watch, the oscillating weight and tourbillon cage are inspired by Goldorak’s astero battle axe, while the tourbillon refers to a pocket watch by Abraham-Louis Breguet. The two circles symbolise two worlds which join up and the movement was developed from this figure of 8 shape.
Arts and crafts
By tradition and inclination, Vacheron Constantin also places the emphasis on the arts and crafts to create veritable artworks in miniature. The engraver hews the material to transcribe the decorative elements into three dimensions. With one hand, the guillocheur turns the handle of his engine-turning lathe and drives the components to be decorated. With his other hand he pushes the carriage which bears the chisel to engrave fine and regular lines. The enameller creates or reproduces on the dial drawings or miniatures with the help of a brush. Sometimes, encounters give rise to new sources of inspiration. That is how the La Symbolique des Laques (Symbolic Lacquers) collection was born in 2010, using the Japanese technique of maki-e, gold or silver dust strewn to create the motif on wet lacquer.